The rise of female entrepreneurs in the last decade has grown exponentially. It takes sheer will and an intricate understanding of the industry one works in to become a leader that inspires others. One such leader in the world of high-end real estate is Jo Eccles, the Founder and Managing Director of Eccord.
Eccord was established in 2006 to bring professional representation to buyers of prime residential property. Jo has been leading Eccord for over 15 years and the company is now consistently ranked as one of London’s elite buying agents and manages over £1.5bn of prime and super-prime properties in the capital.
We, at Insights Success, crossed paths with Jo Eccles in search of ‘The 10 Most Empowering Women Leaders in Wealth Management, 2021,‘ In the following interview, we get a detailed insight into her journey thus far. Below are the highlights of the interview.
Take our readers through your journey and the challenges you came across till your current leadership position at Eccord.
I founded what is now Eccord back in 2006, so 15 years ago. Initially, we were a pure buying agency specializing in sourcing homes and rental investments in central London, with most of our clients working in finance, as that was my background.
Over time, however, our client base has expanded considerably – while our finance client following remains strong and we work with lots of bankers, private equity, and hedge fund leaders, we also now act for sports and media personalities, Rich List families, and many private offices. Client demands have changed and so have market conditions, so we have expanded our expertise to diversify the business and meet changing needs.
For example, in the wake of the financial crisis, there was very little buying demand, so our acquisition team started providing a rental and relocation service in response to many of our clients wanting to sit out the market and rent rather than buy.
Then, when the market recovered, many of our rental clients turned into buying clients, plus we emerged from those couple of years with a highly regarded relocation service which we have since won numerous awards for and is relied upon by global companies when relocating their VIP employees and families to and from London. Over the years, we also responded to demand for high-end property management services for rental investments and, more recently, private homes. Demand for our property management services has grown considerably and now represents 50% of Eccord revenue.
What is your idea of impactful leadership? What style of leadership do you personally prefer at Eccord?
Two and a half years ago, I spent three months doing what was almost a mini-MBA alongside running Eccord, and that was a catalyst to realizing how important leadership is, knowing what you stand for as an individual and a company.
Since then, we have spent a great deal of time becoming really clear on who we hire, what our company ethos is, and the clients we represent. We understand our reputation is everything and our service levels are what makes us stand out, so attracting the right talent and leading the team to share the same values is imperative to keep our service levels consistent. It’s something we’re continuously focusing on and always trying to improve.
In terms of my own leadership style, I am very straighttalking and transparent. Everyone knows what I’m passionate about, what’s important for the business, and where they stand.
What people, what books, what life factors have influenced and impacted you?
My late father was a big influence on me; he was incredibly hard-working and built a very successful career from humble beginnings. He loved property, so my love for real estate was instilled in me at a young age, and he also encouraged my siblings and me to follow our passions and ‘do what you love.’
In terms of books, the best one I have read recently is ‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. I absolutely loved it, and for me it perfectly captured the highs and lows of running a company, alongside the sacrifice and sheer determination that goes into making a success. The apparent emptiness that came following his IPO was very powerful too.
I think all life events shape you and I’m a firm believer that happens for a reason – every situation is an opportunity to learn and having a growth mindset is essential to be open to feedback and criticism so we are always developing and improving as individuals, a team and a company.
What makes your organization’s strategy and financial advice a preferred choice of your clients over the competition?
London residential property as an asset class is quite complex in that it has so many layers to the decision to invest in it. Some clients are entirely investment and numbers driven, but many of our clients will live in the properties we acquire for them, or they may designate them for potential future use by themselves or their children. So, the enjoyment factor needs to be weighed up and combined with expected returns.
In terms of Eccord being appointed over our competitors, our track record is absolutely critical and sets us apart. Over the last 15 years, we have represented private clients on more than 350 acquisitions, and we manage the largest portfolio of rental investments and private homes compared to our peers. Our experience and the fact that we can source, acquire, rent out, run and manage all of our client’s London residential assets completely in-house with an established but boutique setup is extremely important for our clients and the families we represent.
What would be your advice to the up-and-coming women entrepreneurs aspiring to enter the investment advisory world?
My advice is to genuinely live and breathe the asset class you’re working with every day. You need this passion to be the best informed, have the best track record, and develop real expertise and value add. Also, client relationships should always come first, in my opinion – revenue will naturally follow if you’re doing a good job. People do business with people they like, and as long as you maintain integrity and put your clients first, demand will come and clients will remain loyal.